Northam, Buttigieg announce deal to improve passenger rail in Va.

Several railroad crossings in Ocean Springs will close this week.
Several railroad crossings in Ocean Springs will close this week.(Photo Source: WLOX)
Published: Mar. 30, 2021 at 3:46 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Governor Ralph Northam and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg announced a deal on Tuesday to improve and expand the passenger rail in Virginia.

The Commonwealth finalized a $3.7 billion deal with Amtrak, CSX and Virginia Railway Express to create a vital connection between the Northeast and Southeast corridors.

“We have an unprecedented opportunity to build a 21st century rail system in Virginia and along the entire East Coast,” said Northam. “This historic initiative will help get people and goods where they need to go more efficiently, reduce congestion and pollution, and create a more inclusive economy. Together with our partners at Amtrak, CSX, and VRE, we are making critical investments that will fundamentally transform our transportation infrastructure, delivering long-term economic benefits for our workers and communities as we rebound from the pandemic and into the future.”

Buttigieg joined the announcement at Alexandria’s Amtrak/Virginia Railway Express station and discussed the American Rescue Plan, which includes $1.7 billion to get furloughed Amtrak employees back to work.

“As President Biden has said—help is here. The American Rescue Plan is providing more than $43.2 billion to support our nation’s transportation needs and our workers during the pandemic,” said Buttigieg. “The plan is helping Amtrak bring back more than 1,200 furloughed employees and restore service to 12 routes. And more broadly, this funding will help transportation providers across the nation avoid layoffs and help support workers who have been on the front lines delivering vaccines, getting people to essential jobs, and getting essential goods to wherever they need to go.”

Over the next 10 years, officials said the partnership will do the following:

  • Double Virginia-supported Amtrak trains providing nearly hourly service
  • Increase VRE commuter service by 60 percent
  • Lay the foundation for a Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor
  • Preserve an existing freight corridor between Doswell and Clifton Forge for future east-west passenger service
  • Create the potential to expand rail to all parts of the Commonwealth

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